Venice is a Los Angeles suburb with a population of about 41,000 people situated in the Westside area of Los Angeles County.
While it seems like a coincidence that this Venice would be known for its canals, the fact that the city has canals is no accident. In fact, the city was built around a canal system modelled after the famous ones in Venice, Italy.
Venice is also known for its famous beach, boardwalk and pier. The city seems to draw artsy, creative types and this reflects on the culture of the city. The street performers, vendors, street art and eccentric vibe make it an interesting place to explore.
In Venice, there are many restaurants, cafes and funky boutique shops along Abbot Kinney Boulevard. Food trucks are also a common sight around the area.
A variety of festivals and events take place in Venice throughout the year including the Venice Beach Festival, Venice MusicFest and the Abbot Kinney Festival.
Below are 15 of the best things to do in and around Venice, California.
1. Get Some Fresh Air and Exercise in Penmar Park
If you’re looking for some wide-open green space with access to a variety of facilities, Penmar Park is a great place to spend an afternoon outdoors in Venice.
On-site, you’ll find basketball and tennis courts, softball fields and a playground. Picnic areas are also located around to park, so you can bring your lunch along with you and enjoy it outdoors.
2. Enjoy a Live Performance at the Pacific Resident Theatre
The best thing about the Pacific Resident Theatre in Venice Beach is that it’s quite small, so you can enjoy a world-class performance without the crowds in an intimate and cozy environment.
This theatre, which was established in 1985, is exclusively run by local performers. Throughout the year, the venue hosts a wide variety of plays including dramas, musicals and comedies.
Some of the productions are familiar classics while others are new works by up-and-comers. Concerts are also held at the theatre from time to time.
3. Spend a Hot, Sunny Day at Iconic Venice Beach
Venice Beach is by far one of the most popular beaches in the region, and it draws large crowds on hot, sunny days.
If you enjoy a lively and exciting atmosphere and the opportunity to see and do many things in a coastal location, Venice Beach is definitely worth checking out.
The actual beach area is a long, sandy stretch. The water is warm and suitable for swimming and other water activities including surfing and fishing.
The area near the boardwalk that stretches along the beach has many attractions and services including tennis courts, volleyball courts, a bicycle trail, boutique shops, cafes and restaurants. Street entertainers are a common sight along the boardwalk as well.
4. Eat Fresh and Local at Great White
Fresh and local are popular words to describe many of the eateries around Venice, and Great White is no exception.
This quintessential, laid-back, Californian-style cafe serves New American dishes, such as avocado toast and kale salads, along with traditional favourites.
Breakfast, lunch and dinner are served, and organic produce and quality ingredients are used. Some of the items you’ll find on the menu include salads, sandwiches, wraps, pizzas and burgers.
A variety of smoothies, caffeinated beverages and teas are available from the drink menu, and wine and margaritas are a perfect match with a Venice Beach sunset.
5. Take a Stroll Along the Venice Canals Walkway
Situated in The Venice Canal Historic District, the Venice Canal Walkway passes along a series of man-made canals. These historic canals were the idea of Abbot Kinney back in 1905. His intention was to create a nice, relaxing space inspired by the canals of Venice, Italy.
As you walk along the beautiful canals, you’ll be able to enjoy unique architecture and pretty gardens.
6. Play a Round of Golf at Penmar Golf Course
Situated only a short distance away from Venice Beach, Penmar Golf Course is said to be one of the best 9-hole courses in the region.
The Par-33 executive course offers a fun and competitive game suitable for all levels. The on-site practice area features putting greens, and clubs are available for rent. A restaurant is also on site.
7. Check out the Venice Murals
There’s a lot of public art around Venice, and much of that art is in the form of large, colourful murals. The best way to see these murals is with a self-guided walking tour.
The best place to start your tour is at the barrier that divides the boardwalk and parking lot between Navy and Rose Avenues. This ideal route will take about three hours if you take your time.
At the start of the walk, the first thing you’ll see is an exhibit with photos of some of the past and present murals.
As you move along the route, you’ll see around two dozen murals. Some are unique, others are controversial and all are fascinating works of public art. You’ll also see some remarkable architecture along the way.
8. Sample Local Craft Beer at the Venice Beach Beer Company
Since 2010, Venice Beach Beer Company has been producing locally-inspired brews that represent the area’s eclectic, hip atmosphere. The taste is edgier than most traditional beers but satisfying nonetheless.
An amber ale, an India pale ale and an orange wheat ale are among the beers that are made on site. These beers and a wide variety of delicious food options can be enjoyed in the adjoining taproom.
9. Learn to Surf with Aloha Brothers Surf Lessons
Surfing is a popular activity in Venice, and it’s a fun and exciting thing to try no matter your age or past surfing experience.
Whether you’re a beginner who has never even been on a surfboard before or you’re a seasoned surfer looking to hone your skills, there are lessons available for you.
As one of the best surf schools around, you can rest assured that the experienced instructors are well-versed in safety, water conditions and the best techniques. Lessons are offered in groups or privately for one or two people.
10. Browse the Venice Farmers’ Market
Once a week throughout the year, around a dozen vendors set up for the Venice Farmers’ Market. This open-air market offers a wide variety of fresh, local fruits and vegetables from nearby farms.
As you browse the vendors, you’ll also find an assortment of homemade baked items, flowers, honey, pastries, bread and coffee.
11. Visit the Museum of Flying
The Museum of Flying in nearby Santa Monica is a museum dedicated to the history of space and flight.
This spacious complex features a wide variety of exhibits showcasing artefacts, works of art and documents related to aviation history and the technological advances through the years.
Also on site is a number of aircraft including a reproduction of the Wright Flyer and an assortment of jet parts such as a nosepiece from a Boeing 727. Hands-on attractions include a flight simulator. Guided tours are available.
12. Check Out the Mosaic Tile House
Two decades ago, Cheri Pann and her husband Gonzalo started decorating their home with their hand-made tiles. Whether or not they intended for their project to become what it is today is unclear. In fact, it’s still growing.
Whether they did or not, these days, the popular attraction known as The Mosaic Tile House is a colourful and stunning work of art. Guided tours are available with advanced notice, and a gift shop is on site.
13. Try Paddleboarding with Paddle Method
Stand-up paddleboarding is another popular activity in Venice, and Paddle Method is the Tour company that can get you on the water and on a paddleboard.
If you’ve never tried to SUP, as the sport is often called, this company offers lessons to all ages and skill levels. Equipment is provided, and these classes are available for both individuals and small groups.
Alternatively, if you’re already an old pro, you can rent a paddleboard and venture out on your own or you can join a guided tour. Some of the tours available include a tour of the Malibu coastline and a sunset tour.
14. Explore the Santa Monica Pier
The Santa Monica Pier, which is located in the nearby city of Santa Monica, is a fun and exciting place to explore. There’s so much to see, and do you could easily spend an entire day there.
The pier has stood for over a century, and over the years it has grown to be one of the area’s most sought out attractions.
As you explore the pier area, you’ll see many boutique shops, cafes and restaurants. The pier also plays host to several festivals and different types of entertainment.
One of the top attractions at the Santa Monica Pier is Pacific Park which is a theme park with rollercoasters and other thrilling rides. The Aquarium, which is situated under the pier, is an equally popular attraction.
15. Immerse Yourself in the World of Literature at Small World Books
In an artsy community such as Venice, one would expect there to be a classic bookstore in the mix, and Small World Books is where you’ll find a wide variety of books in a cosy little nook on the boardwalk.
This independent shop sells a vast selection of both well-known and not-so-well-known books, and the staff is friendly and helpful.